Saturday, October 29, 1983

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton hit #1 with “Islands in the Stream”

Islands in the Stream

Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton

Writer(s): Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (see lyrics here)


First Charted: August 27, 1983


Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 2 RR, 14 AC, 12 CW, 7 UK, 12 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.6 UK, 4.7 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 90.82 video, 204.05 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Bee Gees were one of the most successful acts of the 1970s, but by 1983 they were a relic of the then-passe disco era. Had anyone bet the trio would ever again top the U.S. pop charts – much less the country charts – any sensible person would have taken that bet. Those people would have lost – kind of.

Even at their peak, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb wrote for others, including #1 songs for Yvonne Elliman, Samantha Sang, Frankie Valli, and their brother Andy. In the 1980s, they wrote Barbra Streisand’s #1 pop hit “Woman in Love” (1980) and the #1 adult contemporary hit “Heartbreaker” for Dionnne Warwick (1982). Their most successful non-Bee Gees song, however, was “Islands in the Stream,” a #1 pop, country, and adult contemporary hit for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. The tune, whose title came from a 1970 Ernest Hemingway story, would be the last country song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 17 years, when Lonestar hit #1 with “Amazed.” SF

Rogers had been interested in working with Barry Gibb a couple of years earlier. He envisioned recording a duets album singing with Gibb, Parton, Willie Nelson, and others. While that project didn’t work out, Rogers still kept Gibb in mind and when he was looking for a new collaborator, he tapped him as the producer for his first album on the RCA label. BR

The resulting Eyes That See in the Dark album was introduced with the single “Islands in the Stream,” a song originally written in an R&B style for Marvin Gaye. WK It was the first time Rogers and Parton worked together, but both had plenty of success on their own. Both artists had topped the country charts multiple times and each had hit #1 on the pop charts in 1980 – Rogers with “Lady” and Parton with “9 to 5.” It ended up the only song in 1983 to be certified platinum. BR It also won the American Music Award for Best Country Single and the Academy of Country Music’s Single of the Year and Vocal Duet of the Year. In 2005, it topped CMT’s poll of the best country duets of all time. WK


Resources:


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First posted 3/21/2020; last updated 11/1/2021.

Sunday, October 23, 1983

John Cougar Mellencamp Uh-Huh

First posted 6/22/2010; updated 9/20/2020.

Uh-Huh

John Cougar Mellencamp


Released: October 23, 1983


Peak: 9 US, 92 UK, 9 CN, 57 AU


Sales (in millions): 3.3 US, -- UK, 3.3 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic heartland rock


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Crumblin’ Down (10/15/83, 9 US, 2 AR, 9 CN, 42 AU)
  2. Pink Houses (10/29/83, 8 US, 3 AR, 15 CN, 69 AU)
  3. Authority Song (2/18/84, 15 US, 15 AR, 41 CN, 93 AU)
  4. Warmer Place to Sleep
  5. Jackie O
  6. Play Guitar (2/4/84, 28 AR)
  7. Serious Business (1/28/84, 34 AR)
  8. Lovin’ Mother Fo Ya
  9. Golden Gates


Total Running Time: 32:59

Rating:

4.148 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)


Quotable: “His first terrific album.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Awards:

About the Album:

“Since American Fool illustrated that John Cougar was becoming an actual songwriter, it’s only proper that he reclaimed his actual last name, Mellencamp, for the follow-up, Uh-Huh. After all, now that he had success, he wanted to be taken seriously, and Uh-Huh reflects that in its portraits of brokenhearted life in the Midwest and its rumbling undercurrent of despair. Although his lyrics still have the tendency to be a little too vague, they are more effective here than ever before, as is his music; he might not have changed his style at all – it’s still a fusion of the Stones and Springsteen – except that he now knows how to make it his own.” STE

Uh-Huh runs out of steam toward the end, but the first half…makes the record his first terrific album.” STE “His best protest song, “Pink Houses”, STE “is the state-of-our-union anthem that John Mellencamp likes to boast about, but the real class-awareness beef of 1983’s Uh-HuhRW is “the punky Authority Song”: STE “‘Call up my preacher... / He said, ‘You don’t need no strength, you need to grow up, son’”).” RW

There’s also the “kidding cynicism” RW of “the dynamic rocker Crumblin’ Down,” STE “the Mellencamp-John Prine collaboration Jackie O,” RW and “the melancholy Warmer Place to Sleep.” STE

“With his Stonesy band crackling behind him, the newly minted superstar also shows that he gets the joke of his ‘serious business’” RW on “the garage rocker Play Guitar,” STE “which might have been the album’s fourth hit single if not for its admonition to ‘forget all about that macho shit.’” RW

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Friday, October 21, 1983

Olivia Newton-John “Twist of Fate” released

Twist of Fate

Olivia Newton-John

Writer(s): Peter Beckett, Steve Kipner (see lyrics here)


Released: October 21, 1983


First Charted: November 4, 1983


Peak: 5 US, 5 CB, 4 RR, 57 UK, 4 CN, 4 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 12.28 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

As a teenager, my two favorite acts were Styx and Olivia Newton-John – a point reflected when I started doing personal weekly charts in 1982. The next year, Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” became my longest-running #1 (12 weeks) in the roughly ten years I maintained my charts. By year’s end, Olivia came close with “Twist of Fate” logging 10 weeks atop my charts. The only other song to surpass it was 1985’s “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears (11 weeks).

Over time, “Twist of Fate” hasn’t maintained the same lofty status as “Mr. Roboto” and “Head Over Heels,” which still rank in my top 100 songs of all time. It still appears in my Grand Library (my top 1000 of all time), but has been surpassed by some half-dozen other Olivia songs, including “Physical,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 weeks, “Magic” and “Xanadu” from the Xanadu soundtrack (my first cassette), and “Heart Attack,” a #3 hit on Billboard from Olivia’s 1982 greatest-hits set.

Because of the monstrous success of 1978’s Grease movie and soundtrack, fans were eager to see stars Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta together again. The 1983 Two of a Kind movie paired the two in a romantic fantasy crime comedy film in which they have to show compassion for one another in order to delay God’s judgment upon Earth. If it sounds like the makings of a flop, it was.

The soundtrack, however, was a success, selling a million copies on the strength of the top-5 hit “Twist of Fate” and top-40 hit “Livin’ in Desperate Times." The synthesizer-driven, rock-oriented material was in keeping with the direction Olivia’s music had been going, but it was a long way away from her ‘70s fare which drew much of its appeal from adult-contemporary and country radio listeners.

“Twist of Fate” came about when Peter Beckett, who wrote and sang the #1 hit “Baby Come Back” by Player, was writing with Steve Kipner and got a call from Olivia’s manager needing an uptempo song for Two of a Kind. They wrote lyrics to suit the movie, specifically referencing the twist that brings Olivia and John Travolta’s characters back together after their initial meeting. SF


Resources:


Related Links:


First posted 8/6/2022.

Friday, October 14, 1983

Cyndi Lauper released She’s So Unusual

First posted 5/30/2008; updated 11/26/2020.

She’s So Unusual

Cyndi Lauper


Released: October 14, 1983


Charted: December 24, 1983


Peak: 4 US, 16 UK, 12 CN, 3 AU


Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 0.1 UK, 16.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Money Changes Everything (Tom Gray) [5:06] (7/20/84, 23a US, 37 AR)
  2. Girls Just Want to Have Fun (Robert Hazard) [3:58] (10/18/83, 2 US, 2 UK, 16 AR, 80 RB, sales: 1.0 m)
  3. When You Were Mine (Prince, Doctor Fink) [5:06]
  4. Time after Time (Cyndi Lauper, Rob Hyman) [4:01] (12/17/83, 1 US, 3 UK, 1 AC, 10 AR, sales: 0.5 m, airplay: 2.0 m)
  5. She Bop (Lauper, Rick Chertoff, Gary Corbett, Stephen Broughton Lunt) [3:47] (2/17/84, 3 US, 46 UK, 27 AR, sales: 0.5 m)
  6. All Through the Night (Jules Shear) [4:33] (5/28/84, 4a US, 64 UK, 4 AC, 38 AR)
  7. Witness (Lauper, John Turi) [3:40]
  8. I’ll Kiss You (Lauper, Shear) [4:12]
  9. He’s So Unusual (Al Sherman, Al Lewis, Abner Silver) [0:45]
  10. Yeah Yeah (Hasse Huss, Mikael Rickfors) [3:18]


Total Running Time: 38:42

Rating:

4.114 out of 5.00 (average of 16 ratings)


Quotable: “One of the great new wave/early MTV records.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“If Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual evokes memories dominated mostly by her cartoonish image, then try to get over it so you can pay attention to the music.” BB “The title of Lauper’s debut isn't self-deprecating or even self-parodying; it’s self-congratulatory. Listen to it again, and you'll find this pleasure to be far from guilty.” BB The album is “one of the great new wave/early MTV records,” STE “a giddy mix of self-confidence, effervescent popcraft, unabashed sentimentality, subversiveness, and clever humor. In short, it’s a multifaceted portrait of a multifaceted talent, an artist [who’s] far more clever than her thin, deliberately girly voice would indicate.” STE “Her vocals have an impish quality, but there’s also tremendous strength, articulation, and nuance.” BB

This album “captured her persona better than anyone could imagine.” STE It is especially impressive how much Lauper’s personality comes through when one realizes how many of these songs are covers, including All Through the Night (Jules Shear), Money Changes Everything (Bad Brains), When You Were Mine (Prince), and even a song from the 1929s, He’s So Unusual (Helen Kane). Most impressively, however, is how Lauper doesn’t just put her stamp on Robert Hazard’s Girls Just Want to Have Fun, but makes it her defining song.

“Lauper’s voice suits her musical persona, since its chirpiness adds depth, or reconfigures the songs whether it’s the call to arms of ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ or the tearjerking Time After Time.” STE The former went top 10 in 19 countries and hit #1 in 10 countries. WK while the latter hit the top ten in 15 countries. WK “Time” has been covered by everyone from Everything But the Girl to Miles Davis, “if you need further proof of her credibility.” BB

The front half of the album is dominated by the singles whether it be the “longing” BB “All Through the Night” or “intense” BB She Bop. Lauper became the first female singer to land four top 5 singles from one album on the Billboard Hot 100. WK

Unusual “is astonishing in its consistency, so strong that it makes the remaining tracks – all enjoyable, but rather pedestrian – charming by their association with songs so brilliantly alive.” STE “The instrumental arrangements are quite inventive and rich, and although the musicality is pointedly ‘80s, the album sounds more winsome than dated.” BB

The only problem is “when a debut captures a personality so well, let alone a personality so tied to its time, the successive work can’t help but pale in comparison. Still, when it’s captured as brightly and brilliantly as it is here, it does result in a debut that retains its potency, long after its production seems a little dated.” STE

Not surprisingly, Lauper won the Best New Artist Grammy. She also took home the prize for Best Recording Package and earned nominations for Album of the Year, Record of the Year (“Girls”), Song of the Year (“Time”), and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (“Girls”). “Girls” was also named Best Female Video of the Year by MTV and was nominated for Video of the Year.


Notes: The 2000 reissue adds live versions of “Money Changes Everything,” “She Bop,” and “All Through the Night.”

Resources and Related Links:

Monday, October 3, 1983

Genesis self-titled album released

Genesis

Genesis


Released: October 3, 1983


Peak: 9 US, 11 UK, 2 CN, 41 AU


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.6 UK, 10.2 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Mama [6:47] (8/22/83, 73 US, 60 CB, 5 AR, 4 UK, 43 CN, 45 AU)
  2. That’s All [4:24] (10/3/83, 6 US, 10 CB, 2 RR, 7 AC, 2 AR, 16 UK, 14 CN, 62 AU)
  3. Home by the Sea [5:07] (10/31/83, 24 AR, 80 AU)
  4. Second Home by the Sea [6:08]
  5. Illegal Alien [5:13] (11/5/83, 44 US, 49 CB, 21 AR, 46 UK, 41 CN)
  6. Taking It All Too Hard [3:56] (2/25/84, 50 US, 49 CB, 11 AC, 41 AR)
  7. Just a Job to Do [4:46] (11/5/83, 10 AR)
  8. Silver Rainbow [4:28]
  9. It’s Gonna Get Better [5:00] (10/8/83, 16 AR)

All songs written by Banks, Collins, and Rutherford.


Total Running Time: 45:33


The Players:

  • Phil Collins (vocals, drums, percussion)
  • Mike Rutherford (guitar, bass, backing vocals)
  • Tony Banks (keyboards, backing vocals)

Rating:

3.626 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“If Genesis still had one foot in the art rock world with Abacab, they jumped into pop with both feet on their eponymous release.” AMG With their “mid-tempo arrangements designed for pop radio in the 1980s,” AMG “the songs are so concise they’re virtually new wave, but still steeped in angst.” BL Then there’s the “crisp, glossy production” AMG courtesy of “Police and XTC producer Hugh Padham,” BL in which “the drums go boom and Collins belts hard while simple keyboard hooks are slammed home.” BL

The “determined attempt to go pop” BLmeant a “lack of musical innovation that fans had come to expect was a little disappointing.” AMG Still, “after years of relative obscurity on this side of the Atlantic, one cannot blame the band, especially one so talented.” AMG

Besides, even if “they had lost their edge, Genesis still had the ability to craft catchy songs,” AMG especially “slower easy listening songs such as That’s All or Taking It All Too Hard. While all the songs are unbelievable catchy, they often mask inane lyrics,” AMG such as on “the surpassingly stupid, Mexican-accented Illegal Alien – where craftsmanship overcomes good sense” BL and “tarnishes the album.” BL

Genesis still represents the best pop radio of that era, and the album is still recommended for fans looking for 1980s nostalgia or fans of Phil Collins’ solo work.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/18/2008; last updated 9/5/2021.

Saturday, October 1, 1983

Bonnie Tyler hit #1 in the U.S. with “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

Total Eclipse of the Heart

Bonnie Tyler

Writer(s): Jim Steinman (see lyrics here)


Released: February 11, 1983


First Charted: February 19, 1983


Peak: 14 US, 14 CB, 13 RR, 7 AC, 23 AR, 12 UK, 12 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.0 UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 928.66 video, 434.94 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

After Bonnie Tyler had a top-5 hit with “It’s a Heartache” in 1978, she disappeared from the charts for five years. After signing to new management, she wondered if Jim Steinman, the guy who produced Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell, an album she loved, would be available to produce. Stereogum’s Tom Breihan described him as “aspiring Broadway guy who doesn’t come from the rock ecosystem and who…uses ever tool at his disposal to achieve full [Phil] Spector/ [Bruce] Springsteen grandiosity.” SG Tyler also loved the kind of sound that Phil Spector used to get and said, “The only producer who can get that epic sound nowadays is Jim Steinman…I didn’t really think he’d do it.” FB

When he agreed, she flew to New York to meet him. He played her “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” a song he’d written for the movie Small Circle of Friends. As she said, “when he plays, he practically knocks [the piano] through the floor.” FB He assembled an all-star band for her album Faster Than the Speed of Night which included guitarist Rick Derringer, drummer Max Weinberg, and keyboardist Roy Bittan. Not only were the latter two part of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, but they’d played on Bat Out of Hell.

Faster Than the Speed of Night debuted at #1 in England, making Tyler the first woman to accomplish that feat. The lead single, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” reached #1 in March 1983. Seven months later the song topped the charts in the U.S. as well.

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” is “pop music as heart-pounding, chest-thumping, blood-gargling, heavens-falling passion explosion.” SG “The term ‘power ballad’ doesn’t adequately describe…[the song] if only because the word ‘power’ just doesn’t have enough power.” SG Tyler is “pleading and wailing and howling and screaming like she’s standing on a mountaintop and demanding answers from God.” SG

“Nobody’s entirely sure what…[it] is about, and nobody needs to know. ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ overwhelms the idea of songwriting specificity in the same way that a tidal wave overwhelms a rowboat.” SG Steinman once described it as “a Wagnerian-like onslaught of sound and emotion.” SG

“Tyler went on to a long career of howling power ballads…but…never made it into the US top 10 again…But people will always need songs to dramatically bellow when they’re drunk, which means ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ will live on forever.” SG


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Bonnie Tyler
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Jim Steinman
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 578.
  • KL Jon Kutner/Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 289.
  • SF Songfacts
  • SG Stereogum (7/27/2020). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia


First posted 11/29/2021.